I recently found a Computer Science BA degree program that requires, as part of the program requirements, students to get a minor in a second department. They say this is done to provide the student with breadth and depth apart from their BS program. Is this arrangement of "Just get any other minor" a common or uncommon in CS or other STEM departments? Is it beneficial for the students versus teaching additional humanities-oriented courses in the CS department?

If anyone knows of examples of such programs a comment would be appreciated.

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    I think this the title for this quesiton would be better if it was "Is requiring studnest to get a minor in another field beneficial" or even "what evidence is there that requiring...". The answer to almost any "Can a degree program..." is "yes, a degree program can do what ever it wants" Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 18:18
  • I think it is common for colleges to require students to pick a Major + Minor. It is unusual that the CS Department itself is enforcing this as opposed to the college as a whole. Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 19:01
  • The BS in Mathematics in my department has such a requirement and our faculty have chosen to keep the requirement so that students have more breadth in their undergraduate program. I can't say how common it is. Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 2:50

2 Answers 2


It is a fairly uncommon practice that I would expect to see at small liberal arts colleges. Such a program does make sense. Many computing related jobs benefit from such capabilities as good writing (which one can pick up by studying history or theology for example) or some background knowledge in an application area such as music or art for people interested in certain aspects of game development.

The college can then offer a reduced computing program (as compared to ABET or ACM core requirements) while still allow their graduates to transition easily in a role in computing.

Prescribing the minor would not work well. One of the reasons to get a liberal arts degree is to be a good all-rounder.

Students from an ABET accredited program should be able to code around these liberal arts students (though that is debatable), but will not do so well in jobs that are not exclusively engineering oriented.

Finally, the experience gathered on the job becomes a larger and larger part of a person's capabilities so that the importance of the college experience slowly recedes over the years.

On a personal note, many, many years ago, I was at St. Louis University, which at that point (how times have changed) had a very rudimentary CS degree in Mathematics, but their graduates were picked up by Anheuser Busch and similar places, not because of their engineering skills, but because they could easily learn to do the software engineering jobs (basically application programming) while being able to write such things as manuals and communicate well with the users of their programs. Apparently, they found it more difficult to teach these soft skills to graduates from more computer centric programs.

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    What is ABET and ACM? Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:36
  • @AzorAhai-him- See abet.org and acm.org. The first is an engineering and CS accreditation org and the latter is one of the two main computing societies.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:45
  • I'm surprised you say "uncommon". I'll guess you had such a rule in your undergrad days as did I.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:46
  • @Buffy I can Google, why don't you add those to the answer? Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:49
  • @AzorAhai-him-, not my answer, so I hesitate.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:59

A degree program is basically a list of requirements to fulfill, primarily a list of courses. For example, you must complete courses A, B, C, D, E, F, X, Y, Z to get the degree.

Requiring a minor is no different than saying you must complete A, B, C, D, E, F, M, where M = X, Y, Z. A program may give you some flexibility on what courses fulfill X, Y, and Z; if they choose to organize X, Y, Z into various versions of "M", that's really no different.

An institution can group and require their courses however they'd like, presumably they're trying to either make their program attractive to students directly or make their graduates attractive to people who might want to employ or train them further (and therefore make their program attractive to students indirectly).

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